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Memphis in May

2018 International Gala

Story by Emily Adams Keplinger  | Photos by Don Perry

Guests filled The Skyway of The Peabody for the 2018 International Gala of Memphis in May. A silent auction served as a fundraiser for the Memphis in May International Festival, which was celebrating its 42nd anniversary.

As a tribute to this year’s honored country, The Czech Republic, libations and food were Czech-themed. For the seated dinner, guests dined on an appetizer of Vlassky Salat, a traditional spread of fermented cabbage in a tomato wrap, with baby frisee and garlic cream. An entree of braised short ribs “Czech Republic Gulasch Style” featured braised beef with paprika, onions and tomatoes served with bread dumplings and pickled vegetables. Dessert was Bublanina, a Czech Bubble cake with seasonal berries, sauce Anglaise and vanilla-infused whipped cream. Wines Chateau Valtice “Vino z Czech” Rivaner 2016 and Templar Cellars Pinot Noir 2013 were served at the table.

Jim Holt, MIM President and CEO, welcomed the crowd and introduced Kristen Wright, 2018 Chairman of the MIM Board of Directors. Wright thanked Holt and the MIM staff, and recognized International Gala chairwoman Leigh Shockey for organizing the gala. Wright also thanked her parents for enabling her to travel abroad during her youth, which she credited for establishing her life-long love of travel. 

Wright introduced Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell and City of Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, who both addressed the crowd. Mayor Strickland shared that CNN had selected Memphis as the #1 city, in the world, to visit during May. And he told of the $111 million economic impact the festival has on the city. Next, honored guest His Excellency Hynek Kmonicek, Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the United States, was introduced and expressed gratitude on behalf of his country for being this year’s MIM honored country. The celebration coincided with the 100th anniversary of The Czech Republic’s independence.

Wright presented Ambassador Kmonicek with a Memphis in May limited edition commemorative plaque crafted by local artist Stephen Hudson. The hand-painted piece included components that celebrated the City of Memphis, highlighting Memphis music and Memphis barbecue.

After dinner, hometown favorite Booker T. Jones and his band took the stage. They performed many of the hits that propelled Memphis music to world-wide fame. Tunes included “Dock of the Bay,’ “Knock on Wood,” “Soul Man,” “Mr. Big Stuff” and the instrumental rock and soul classic, “Green Onions.” 

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